Americans Struggle To Get High Blood Pressure Under Control, CDC Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – High blood pressure is a major risk factor for all sorts of serious health problems.

While there are very good treatments for hypertension, a lot of people are missing out, CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports.

Vickram Marla was diagnosed with high blood pressure, or hypertension, 10 years ago. He says stress at work contributed to the problem.

“I used to put in a lot of long hours. I used to own a company. A lot of stress,” he said.

High blood pressure has become a major public health issue. According to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, about 30 percent of Americans have high blood pressure, and about half of them don’t have it under control.

“You can have heart attacks from that. You can have an increased incident of stroke,” Dr. Ravi Dave, of UCLA Health, explained.

That’s not all. In addition to stroke and heart attack, even a few points of elevated pressure can put you at increased risk for heart failure, dementia, kidney damage, eye problems and even erectile dysfunction.

“Get it under control. The longer you wait, the more harm you’re doing to your body,” Dave said.

While high blood pressure often requires medication to control, the good news is you might be able to reduce or even eliminate those drugs with some lifestyle changes, Dr. Max reports. A number of apps can help you with a healthier diet – less salt, fat and alcohol; no smoking – and weight loss. Even losing a few pounds reduces blood pressure.

Marla now keeps his blood pressure under control with medication. He’s also changed his lifestyle to reduce stress.

“Exercise and medication is something everyone can do,” he said.

You may think you’re OK if only one of your blood pressure numbers is high or only a few points elevated, but experts say that still puts you at increased risk for serious health problems. Work with your doctor to lower those numbers.

The CDC report also revealed hypertension is most prevalent among African American men and African American and Hispanic women.

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